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Thought Leadership

Zero to hero - Time to address the “S” word

Why sustainability delivers more than you think

Lifecycle solutions

sustainability 5

We planned to start this article with some facts about how often the word sustainability is used nowadays. The idea was to highlight that it seems to be the word of the moment.

But, in fact, it’s not. Sustainability has been used continuously and discussed for decades. What's new is that it’s finally being heard in boardrooms around the world, as a different group of users — most of them well tailored — have latched on to how important the term is to both their presents and their futures. 

Why the boardroom is finally onboard?

So why have some of the most hardnosed men and women in business taken up the environmental cause? Could this be a cynical ploy to get another CSR (corporate social responsibility) hobby horse off the agenda by talking it up and ticking a few boxes?

Well, no. Believe it or not, these business leaders are human too — with families, living in a world where global warming is having an ever more visible impact. Moreover, as human beings they are concerned about the futures of their children and the generations to come. They realise that sustainability really is in everyone’s interest.

The latest strategic imperative

But sustainability goes way beyond personal interest. Because organisations, not least the multinationals, understand that it’s crucial for business. Just look at the number of their websites that state how becoming carbon neutral and eventually net zero is a major strategic goal. We can certainly think of a few. Plus, we can give you a list of several major IT corporations that could talk for hours about the work they are doing on their supply chain, making sure suppliers are working towards sustainability and weeding out the ones who aren’t onboard.

What’s obvious to everyone — not only enterprises, but also the small and medium-sized companies — is that you can’t do business without a clear-eyed approach to sustainability going forward. Governments are setting targets and bringing in legislation, employees and new starters are demanding action from bosses, and even investors are judging sustainability strategies before injecting any cash.

Listen to the wider business

Any doubt about where things are headed can be fixed at the local level by a quick chat with the sales teams. Ask them how many RFPs nowadays challenge respondents on their sustainability records or what’s in place to cut carbon emissions. If those sales teams work with the public sector, they’ll add that verifiable data on a company’s greenhouse gas reductions is simply expected.

Still not convinced? Well speak to HR about retention and recruitment. While not wanting to pigeonhole people, your average graduate fresh from university — while being part of Gen Z — is also likely to be a part-time eco-warrior. And we don’t use that term pejoratively because, thankfully, this group is more committed to protecting the planet than “living the dream” with the house, the car, the apartment abroad etc. that previous generations (ours included) once desired. All this means, of course, they are not going to be shy of asking what your sustainability strategy is at interview. And if you don’t have something serious to say, you’ll lose them and end up with second-best or maybe no-one at all.

It all goes to show that if remaining competitive is your goal — and why wouldn’t it be — with a growing client list and a committed, highly educated workforce, then you’re going to have to get your energy-saving house in order.

Zero to hero

There’s always a pain point, right?

Still, to bring the conversation back down to earth, we’re going to share some insight that many of you will be able to relate to. The simple truth is that it’s hard to know where to start with something so important and so transformative. Unless you have the spare resources to put to work on sustainability, it can seem like a massive headache.

Do I put my money in increasing my sales team or buying new equipment? Or do I put it in a sustainability program under the remit of someone at my company who’s not experienced in this kind of thing but sounds keen. Okay, that makes it appear like a bit of a gamble, but it isn’t. It’s daunting sure, but nothing more. Really, there’s no downside to sustainability nowadays from a business perspective — it’s all good — which means it’s really about just making a start, however big or small.

It’s offence, not just defence

Up to this point, it’s all sounded a bit defensive really, but we don’t want it to be. True, you need to get your sustainability straight to stay on the right side of customers and staff. But there’s more here. There’s opportunity. Look around and you’ll see that protecting the environment is a driver for innovation and new services. It’s actually promoting growth. How much is going into the renewable energy sector today? Just how many minds are focused on improving crop yields with fewer emissions and resources. And mobility? Electric cars and schemes to reduce contamination through bike sharing and electric scooters are increasingly everywhere. The environment really is an engine for change.

Welcome to Enexo

For the support you need with sustainability, we would like to introduce Enexo. It’s a cloud-based platform that allows you to work towards carbon reduction and net zero from the smallest beginnings. You’ll be able to break down your sustainability strategy into a program of simple steps, requiring minimal data capture to start.

Imagine it like a diet planner. It orientates you towards where the calories (emissions) lie and then guides you on how to cut them out. Plus, you can see how other companies in your field are doing as they try to tackle their carbon-producing bulk.

Enexo is sustainability simplified and straightforward. It helps bake success into your strategy from the get-go. The solution is aimed at companies of all sizes, particularly those medium-sized organisations that probably have legacy infrastructure that could be addressed — like a fleet of diesel or gas-guzzling vehicles or even an on-premises data room. You’ll quickly establish a solid foundation for your program whatever the size, and gain results that you can feed back to the business. As we’ve seen, as soon as the results start to come in, the love around sustainability blossoms and eco-warriors will start popping up all over the place, so it’s no longer just the graduates — it’s everyone.